In today’s marketing environment, SEO is a necessity. Yes, it’s difficult to master, takes a lot of time, and requires a commitment to be patient to see the rewards. Figuring out how to implement SEO into your marketing strategy can be just as difficult.
Think of your options as being kind of like the ones your customers have.
- Do nothing
- Do it yourself
- Hire an expert
If you, and your potential customers, are serious about fixing the problem, option #3 may often be the best solution. Option #2 is probably considered most of the time, at least to a certain degree, but can lead quickly to option #3 if it seems too tough to handle in-house.
So what do you get with option #3?
- You get an experienced, knowledgeable professional who understands SEO and how to use it to market in your specific niche.
- You get a comprehensive SEO marketing strategy that is monitored and measured throughout the process.
- You get significant insight into the constantly changing arena of digital marketing and SEO.
Those are some pretty good reasons for outsourcing your SEO marketing, but before you make that final decision, there are a few things you want to consider.
1. What Kind of SEO Help Do You Need and How Much?
If you were already thinking you could just outsource your SEO for your marketing campaign without having to learn anything at all about SEO, think again. You have to have at least a basic understanding of the different areas of SEO to make the decision to outsource or to do it in-house. With this knowledge, you may find that there are some elements you can handle in-house, while more complex elements may require an expert.
There are plenty of SEO resources on-line, from the basics to the more technical aspects. Check these out to get familiar with the basics or SEO and get some great tips.
- SearchEngineWatch.com: 30 SEO Tips for Small Businesses
- SearchEngineLand.com: 6 Strategies for Building Links to Your Small Business Website
- Forbes.com: SEO 101: Building an SEO Strategy
The above links should give you enough information to understand the elements of SEO, how it works, and what, if any, elements you may be able to handle yourself in-house.
Keep in mind that if you decide to outsource some SEO needs and not others, you will have to handle the integration of the different elements and manage your SEO campaign on an ongoing basis.
2. How Much Will SEO Cost?
Remember when we said at the beginning of this article that SEO is hard to master? Well, it is and that mastery that an SEO expert provides costs money, but with the right expert it’s well worth it. Costs can be more than $50 per hour or a couple of thousand per month, depending on the services provided.
That’s why it’s so important to know how much SEO help you really need.
Cost may be the most important consideration, especially for small companies, but looking at outsourcing your SEO as an investment in growing your business may help keep the matter of cost more balanced against other considerations.
Or, you could just do your SEO in-house and save money.
Not so fast. The cost for in-house SEO may seem to be a much better deal on the surface, but consider these important points.
- How much time and money will it cost to train someone in your business and how much revenue could be lost while they learn and get the campaign going?
- Even if you have someone in-house who understands SEO, are you prepared to pay them a full-time salary to manage the SEO campaign?
- Are you and your staff prepared to maintain the marketing strategy, create content on a frequent basis, and actually monitor and manage the results?
- Are you prepared to hire an SEO Manager for your company? A large, ongoing SEO marketing campaign is a full-time job, and you can expect to pay $50-$120k+/yr according to Digital Current.
3. How Will an SEO Campaign Align With Your Current Marketing?
If you are struggling with SEO decisions, it’s safe to assume that you have some type of marketing strategy in place or at least have one mapped out. Before making an important and costly decision about SEO, you need to know a few things about how SEO affects your niche and the current state of your marketing program.
- What are your marketing goals?
- How much is SEO a part of your marketing program already?
- What results, if any, have you measured regarding both SEO and marketing in general?
- What are your expectations for starting or adding to an SEO campaign?
If you can answer the above questions, then you are probably in a good position to make an educated decision on SEO’s future with your marketing efforts. If you can’t answer those questions, then you can either take the time to analyze your marketing strategy and get a better grasp of SEO elements, or you can hire a consultant.
Hiring a SEO consultant can be a big help to businesses that don’t really know where they stand from a marketing standpoint or not sure what their particular niche needs for SEO. An experienced SEO consultant can determine what is good, and bad, about your marketing strategy, advise you on a course of action, and help you understand the elements needed for an effective marketing plan.
A good place to start if you decide this is a service your company needs is over at Entrepreneur.com with their great article 10 Questions to Ask When Hiring an SEO Consultant.
4. What’s Your Brand?
If you don’t know how to answer that question, then you need a little primer on “branding.” If your company or service doesn’t have a “brand,” then customers don’t notice you.
Branding is nicely defined by Entreprenuer.com as “The marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products .” In other words, what makes your company unique, what makes it identifiable to your potential customers?
If you don’t know what your “brand” is, it’s time to give it some thought and define what it is that makes your company a good choice. A good reference for this task is an article at the Content Marketing Institute, 5 Easy Steps to Define and Use Your Brand Voice.
If your company is viewed as pretty much “like all the rest,” then your chances of growing your business are pretty dismal. Your customers are looking for you with digital devices like a laptop or cell phone. If they can’t identify your brand and why your company is the best choice, then they will most likely move on.
The effectiveness of your “branding” is directly related to how successful your SEO efforts will be. You can learn more from these two resources: American Marketing Association on how SEO affects branding and The Balance on why branding is so important.